Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Australia will be at “the front of the pack” for a COVID-19 vaccine should trials underway overseas result in an approved formula.
But while it would seem obvious to many that the elderly and those with chronic health issues would be at the front of that “pack” for the first issue of any vaccine, the PM would not confirm that today.
In a radio interview with ABC’s Michael Rowland, Mr Morrison was asked who in Australia would receive the vaccine first.
“Well, that would be determined by the medical advisors, and how that program is rolled out,” the Prime Minister said.
“I mean, the trials are not yet fully completed and that would help them form that view.
“I should stress, though, that it won’t be the only one that Australia will be taking a position on. Professor Brendan Murphy is heading up an expert panel to advise us on additional vaccine developments. I mean, there are 160 around the world. And we’ll be looking to take further positions and there’s already work under way on that.”
When pressed further by Rowland, the Prime Minister again backed away from playing favourites with the first vaccine doses.
“But when you’re looking at possibly having to prioritise people Prime Minister, is it the elderly? Is it frontline workers who would get priority?” Rowland asked.
“Well, again, that will be determined by the medical advice based on the actual vaccine itself,” said Mr Morrison.
“And you’ve highlighted some obvious priorities. But the final decisions would be made on medical advice.”
Mr Morrison went on to say that Australia’s “Plan B” should the Oxford University vaccine, or any other vaccine, not pass the final approvals would be to “live positively” with the virus.
“And that’s why having a COVID-safe economy, a COVID-safe community is so important,” he said.
“That’s why having strong testing, tracing and outbreak capacity, capabilities are so critical to enable Australians to get on with their lives.”
“We are working towards and hoping for, and planning and preparing for a vaccine, but equally, at the same time, you need to ensure that you can reopen your economy and you can get on top of the outbreaks that are there.”